In past T3 meetings, we’ve never had a good chunk of time dedicated to talking about the work that our teachers are doing in the classroom, so this month, we focused solely on sharing what has been working well.
Assign projects that create a sense of self by:
- Giving fewer directions
- Setting firm deadlines
- Creating freedom and ownership of work
When the focus of the assignments shift from an achievement grade to understanding and processing the content, students have space to think more deeply and showcase what they’ve learned in a manner that best expresses themselves.
Example: The Podcast Project.
Instead of providing a long, lengthy list of requirements that would define an “A” grade podcast, Kris opens up the floor to students. Students spend time discussing what makes high quality interview questions, evaluating each others’ work on Schoology discussions, and providing numerous prompts or topics surrounding a common theme for students to choose from. Here’s a student sample podcast video from Ms. Dominguez’s Peace & Justice assignment.
Content: Courtesy of Liam Rizzo and Molleen Dominguez
Problem-solve & ask deeper questions together by:
- Providing just enough information to apply that concept
- Adding a twist to the concept with a “what if…”
- Clarifying foundational information
Students have just finished learning about electric currents and sensory neurons. Now, they can take what they know and apply it to concepts beyond the current topic. Here’s a sample question that’s open ended but potentially relevant to the topic at hand:
You’re innocently walking down the street when aliens zap away the sensory neurons in your legs. What happens?
a)Your walking movements show no significant change.
b) You can no longer walk.
c) You can walk, but the pace changes.
d) You can walk, but clumsily.
The beauty is that there isn’t a single answer, but some answers may be more informed than others. These kinds of questions open up discussions that would require one to draw from what they’ve learned and envisioning this process in a new scenario.
Make the boring stuff fun by:
- Turning the task into a competition
- Taking votes
- Reverse checking others’ work
Teaching citations and caption formatting can seem mundane, but instead of approaching these topics with dullness, try turning the task into a contest. It’s either right or it’s wrong, so this makes for quick “Do it right now!” competition, similar to a pepper activity (Technique 24 from Teach Like a Champion). These practices trains the student eye to know what looks right.
Example: After students have learned what a proper citation is supposed to look like, test them.
- Schoology Discussion Board: Place an image in the prompt and have students upvote or post the proper citation for the image. If they choose to copy another student’s work, they’ll still have to be able to identify which citation is the correct one.
- Work Backwards: After completing citations, group students up and have them look up citations to see if they can find the original source.
- Cold Call: Keep students on their toes by giving a chance to find an answer, then randomly select names or draw sticks.
- Kahoot!: Create friendly competition with a game of Kahoot! with True/False, multiple choice questions, etc.
Grading & Feedback
Use rubrics to grade more efficiently by:
- Building comment banks for future use (in Google Keep)
- Using previously used comments to generate rubric criteria
- Having students take part in building rubric criteria
While using rubrics may require some more preparation and thinking up-front, it may save time in the long run, especially if you find yourself writing the same comment over and over to students.
Example: Rubric Criteria
If students consistently forget to write their full name and period on their projects, make that one of the criteria. Instead of having to write the same comment every time, include “full name and period” as rubric criteria so that you just have to circle or click the point value the student has earned.
Engage students in cooperative tasks.
This allows students to tap into the thoughts of their classmates and to share their own ideas, creating a space for more meaningful class discussions.
- Create Groups
- Compass Buddies. A quick way to group students up.
- Maximize Participation
- Make Connections
- Jigsaw. Groups focus on specialized topics, then present to other groups to make connections between numerous concepts to see the bigger picture.